Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Adenosine triphosphate


The neuropeptide Pigment Dispersing Factor (PDF) is essential for normal circadian function in Drosophila. It synchronizes the phases of M pacemakers, while in E pacemakers it decelerates their cycling and supports their amplitude. The PDF receptor (PDF-R) is present in both M and subsets of E cells. Activation of PDF-R stimulates cAMP increases in vitro and in M cells in vivo. The present study asks: What is the identity of downstream signaling components that are associated with PDF receptor in specific circadian pacemaker neurons? Using live imaging of intact fly brains and transgenic RNAi, we show that adenylate cyclase AC3 underlies PDF signaling in M cells. Genetic disruptions of AC3 specifically disrupt PDF responses: they do not affect other Gs-coupled GPCR signaling in M cells, they can be rescued, and they do not represent developmental alterations. Knockdown of the Drosophila AKAP-like scaffolding protein Nervy also reduces PDF responses. Flies with AC3 alterations show behavioral syndromes consistent with known roles of M pacemakers as mediated by PDF. Surprisingly, disruption of AC3 does not alter PDF responses in E cells–the PDF-R(+) LNd. Within M pacemakers, PDF-R couples preferentially to a single AC, but PDF-R association with a different AC(s) is needed to explain PDF signaling in the E pacemakers. Thus critical pathways of circadian synchronization are mediated by highly specific second messenger components. These findings support a hypothesis that PDF signaling components within target cells are sequestered into “circadian signalosomes,” whose compositions differ between E and M pacemaker cell types.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, In vivo, In vitro, Artificial pacemaker, Adenylate cyclase


Aberrant signaling through the class I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt axis is frequent in human cancer. Here, we show that Beclin 1, an essential autophagy and tumor suppressor protein, is a target of the protein kinase Akt. Expression of a Beclin 1 mutant resistant to Akt-mediated phosphorylation increased autophagy, reduced anchorage-independent growth, and inhibited Akt-driven tumorigenesis. Akt-mediated phosphorylation of Beclin 1 enhanced its interactions with 14-3-3 and vimentin intermediate filament proteins, and vimentin depletion increased autophagy and inhibited Akt-driven transformation. Thus, Akt-mediated phosphorylation of Beclin 1 functions in autophagy inhibition, oncogenesis, and the formation of an autophagy-inhibitory Beclin 1/14-3-3/vimentin intermediate filament complex. These findings have broad implications for understanding the role of Akt signaling and intermediate filament proteins in autophagy and cancer.

Concepts: Proteins, Cancer, Oncology, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Cytoskeleton, Tumor suppressor gene, AKT


Ionizing radiation-induced oxidative stress is attributed to generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) due to radiolysis of water molecules and is short lived. Persistent oxidative stress has also been observed after radiation exposure and is implicated in the late effects of radiation. The goal of this study was to determine if long-term oxidative stress in freshly isolated mouse intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) is dependent on radiation quality at a dose relevant to fractionated radiotherapy. Mice (C57BL/6J; 6 to 8 weeks; female) were irradiated with 2 Gy of γ-rays, a low-linear energy transfer (LET) radiation, and intestinal tissues and IEC were collected 1 year after radiation exposure. Intracellular ROS, mitochondrial function, and antioxidant activity in IEC were studied by flow cytometry and biochemical assays. Oxidative DNA damage, cell death, and mitogenic activity in IEC were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Effects of γ radiation were compared to (56)Fe radiation (iso-toxic dose: 1.6 Gy; energy: 1000 MeV/nucleon; LET: 148 keV/µm), we used as representative of high-LET radiation, since it’s one of the important sources of high Z and high energy (HZE) radiation in cosmic rays. Radiation quality affected the level of persistent oxidative stress with higher elevation of intracellular ROS and mitochondrial superoxide in high-LET (56)Fe radiation compared to unirradiated controls and γ radiation. NADPH oxidase activity, mitochondrial membrane damage, and loss of mitochondrial membrane potential were greater in (56)Fe-irradiated mice. Compared to γ radiation oxidative DNA damage was higher, cell death ratio was unchanged, and mitotic activity was increased after (56)Fe radiation. Taken together our results indicate that long-term functional dysregulation of mitochondria and increased NADPH oxidase activity are major contributing factors towards heavy ion radiation-induced persistent oxidative stress in IEC with potential for neoplastic transformation.

Concepts: Oxygen, Bacteria, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Cell biology, Oxidative stress, Oxidative phosphorylation, Reactive oxygen species


Matrix stiffening and myofibroblast resistance to apoptosis are cardinal features of chronic fibrotic diseases involving diverse organ systems. The interactions between altered tissue biomechanics and cellular signaling that sustain progressive fibrosis are not well defined. In this study, we used ex vivo and in vivo approaches to define a mechanotransduction pathway involving Rho/Rho kinase (Rho/ROCK), actin cytoskeletal remodeling, and a mechanosensitive transcription factor, megakaryoblastic leukemia 1 (MKL1), that coordinately regulate myofibroblast differentiation and survival. Both in an experimental mouse model of lung fibrosis and in human subjects with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), we observed activation of the Rho/ROCK pathway, enhanced actin cytoskeletal polymerization, and MKL1 cytoplasmic-nuclear shuttling. Pharmacologic disruption of this mechanotransduction pathway with the ROCK inhibitor fasudil induced myofibroblast apoptosis through a mechanism involving downregulation of BCL-2 and activation of the intrinsic mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Treatment with fasudil during the postinflammatory fibrotic phase of lung injury or genetic ablation of Mkl1 protected mice from experimental lung fibrosis. These studies indicate that targeting mechanosensitive signaling in myofibroblasts to trigger the intrinsic apoptosis pathway may be an effective approach for treatment of fibrotic disorders.

Concepts: Cancer, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Fibrosis, Apoptosis, In vivo, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Pulmonary fibrosis


Cytochrome c oxidase is a member of the haem copper oxidase superfamily (HCO). HCOs function as the terminal enzymes in the respiratory chain of mitochondria and aerobic prokaryotes, coupling molecular oxygen reduction to transmembrane proton pumping. Integral to the enzyme’s function is the transfer of electrons from cytochrome c to the oxidase via a transient association of the two proteins. Electron entry and exit are proposed to occur from the same site on cytochrome c. Here we report the crystal structure of the caa3-type cytochrome oxidase from Thermus thermophilus, which has a covalently tethered cytochrome c domain. Crystals were grown in a bicontinuous mesophase using a synthetic short-chain monoacylglycerol as the hosting lipid. From the electron density map, at 2.36 Å resolution, a novel integral membrane subunit and a native glycoglycerophospholipid embedded in the complex were identified. Contrary to previous electron transfer mechanisms observed for soluble cytochrome c, the structure reveals the architecture of the electron transfer complex for the fused cupredoxin/cytochrome c domain, which implicates different sites on cytochrome c for electron entry and exit. Support for an alternative to the classical proton gate characteristic of this HCO class is presented.

Concepts: Electron, Bacteria, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Mitochondrion, Cellular respiration, Cytochrome c, Cytochrome c oxidase


The propensity of cancer cells to convert high levels of glucose to lactate through aerobic glycolysis has been intensively studied in vitro, and is now understood to be a metabolic adaptation that shunts glucose carbons toward building blocks for the growing cell, as well as producing ATP. Much less is known, however, about the role of aerobic glycolysis and glycolytic enzymes in vivo. A paper in Cancer and Metabolism now documents aerobic glycolysis in the proliferating neural progenitors that form the cerebellum in normal newborn mice, as well as in medulloblastoma tumors derived from these cells in transgenic mice. Hexokinase II is demonstrated to be an essential driver of the observed aerobic glycolysis and the malignancy of the tumors.See research article:½.

Concepts: Oncology, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Glucose, Cellular respiration, Glycolysis, Hexokinase


Selection of genes involved in metabolic pathways could target them differently depending on the position of genes in the pathway and on their role in controlling metabolic fluxes. This hypothesis was tested in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway using population genetics and phylogenetics.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Evolution, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Biology, Organism, Horizontal gene transfer


Inflammation and oxidative stress play a crucial role in angiotensin (Ang) II-mediated vascular injury. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has recently been identified as a specific Ang II-degrading enzyme but its role in vascular biology remains elusive. We hypothesized that loss of ACE2 would facilitate Ang II-mediated vascular inflammation and peroxynitrite production. 10-week wildtype (WT, Ace2(+/y)) and ACE2 knockout (ACE2KO, Ace2(-/y)) mice received with mini-osmotic pumps with Ang II (1.5⁻¹.d⁻¹) or saline for 2 weeks. Aortic ACE2 protein was obviously reduced in WT mice in response to Ang II related to increases in profilin-1 protein and plasma levels of Ang II and Ang-(1-7). Loss of ACE2 resulted in greater increases in Ang II-induced mRNA expressions of inflammatory cytokines monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6 without affecting tumor necrosis factor-α in aortas of ACE2KO mice. Furthermore, ACE2 deficiency led to greater increases in Ang II-mediated profilin-1 expression, NADPH oxidase activity, and superoxide and peroxynitrite production in the aortas of ACE2KO mice associated with enhanced phosphorylated levels of Akt, p70S6 kinase, extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). Interestingly, daily treatment with AT1 receptor blocker irbesartan (50 mg/kg) significantly prevented Ang II-mediated aortic profilin-1 expression, inflammation, and peroxynitrite production in WT mice with enhanced ACE2 levels and the suppression of the Akt-ERK-eNOS signaling pathways. Our findings reveal that ACE2 deficiency worsens Ang II-mediated aortic inflammation and peroxynitrite production associated with the augmentation of profilin-1 expression and the activation of the Akt-ERK-eNOS signaling, suggesting potential therapeutic approaches by enhancing ACE2 action for patients with vascular diseases.

Concepts: Inflammation, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Endothelium, Angiotensin II receptor antagonist, Nitric oxide, Nitric oxide synthase


We have previously shown increased cardiac stanniocalcin-1 (STC1) in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. STC1 localizes to the inner mitochondrial membrane and transgenic over-expression of STC1 is associated with increased energy utilization.

Concepts: Bacteria, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrial DNA, Organelle, Muscle, Dilated cardiomyopathy, Crista


While human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and human embryonal carcinoma cells (hECCs) have been studied extensively at the levels of the genome, transcriptome, proteome and epigenome our knowledge of their corresponding metabolomes is limited. Here, we present the metabolic signatures of hESCs and hESCs obtained by untargeted gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Whilst some metabolites are common to both cell types, representing the self-renewal and house-keeping signatures, others were either higher (e.g., octadecenoic acid, glycerol-3-phosphate, 4-hydroxyproline) or lower (e.g., glutamic acid, mannitol, malic acid, GABA) in hESCs (H9) compared to hECCs (NTERA2), these represent cell type specific signatures. Further, our combined results of GC-MS and microarray based gene expression profiling of undifferentiated and OCT4-depleted hESCs are consistent with the Warburg effect which is increased glycolysis in embryonic cells and tumor cells in the presence of O(2) while oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is impaired or even shut down. RNAi-based OCT4 knock down mediated differentiation resulted in the activation of the poised OXPHOS machinery by expressing missing key proteins such as NDUFC1, UQCRB and COX, increase in TCA cycle activity and decreased lactate metabolism. These results shed light on the metabolite layer of pluripotent stem cells and could potentially establish novel metabolic markers of self renewal and pluripotency.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Oxidative phosphorylation, Embryonic stem cell